Disaster Preparedness Knowledge, Beliefs, Risk-Perceptions, and Mitigating Factors of Disaster Preparedness Behaviors of Undergraduate Students at a Large Midwest University


Objective: Differences were assessed in disaster preparedness levels of college students at a large Midwest university based on knowledge, risk perception, beliefs, prior enrollment in a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or first aid class, and self-efficacy was assessed.

Methods: College students between the ages of 18 and 24 years old were recruited from a general education class and from students who walked by a high-traffic area in the student union to complete a 27-item survey. A disaster preparedness score was calculated based on items each participant indicated he or she currently possessed at home. Participant responses were also dichotomized into knowledge (advanced vs. basic) risk perception (high vs. low), belief (strong vs. weak), CERT or first aid enrollment (yes vs. no), and self-efficacy (high vs. low) groups based on how the participant answered specific items on the survey. An independent samplest-test was used to analyze the differences in disaster preparedness levels between each dichotomized group.

Results: There was no significant difference (p=0.789) found between the strong beliefs (M=7.97, SD=3.478) and the weak beliefs group (M=7.88, SD=3.099), t(384) = -4.978.

Conclusions: Based on the findings of this study, health education programs that focus on improving knowledge, self-efficacy in preparing for a disaster, and risk perception of experiencing a disaster will increase the disaster preparedness levels of college students. Universities partnering with community emergency management agencies and offering CERT or first aid classes to college students can increase the disaster preparedness levels of college students and potentially improve response and recovery after a disaster.



Document Type





college students, disaster preparedness, knowledge, self-efficacy, risk-perception, CERT, first aid

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Public Health Issues and Practices